DAHLGREN, Va. (NNS) -- More than 40 warfare tactics instructors (WTI) from around the fleet gathered in Dahlgren, Virginia, March 6-10, to undergo 're-blue' or requalification training, a regrouping of the best of the best to share and refresh their tactical knowledge and proficiency.
The WTIs underwent four days of the new Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD) re-bluing curriculum at the Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center's (SMWDC) IAMD Division. This inaugural event was launched to ensure WTIs remain current and familiar with the latest developments in the fast-paced, challenging and lethal arena of IAMD.
"Naval aviators must requalify annually in their assigned aircrafts. SEALs maintain regular qualification standards for marksmanship, combat swimmer skills and parachuting. Our WTIs needed to adopt a similar culture of rigorous self-assessment to be able to fight and win in the maritime domain," said Rear Adm. John Wade, commander of SMWDC. "WTIs are the tactical center of gravity for the surface Navy. Everything they do is to support sea control and increase the lethality and tactical proficiency of our surface forces through advanced training and tactical development. This year's re-blue is a demonstration of us as a community becoming tougher and becoming more offensive to maintain our competitive edge in a competitive environment."
During the re-blue, WTIs were equipped with fresh tactical knowledge to maintain fleet credibility by learning new critical combat air/missile defense skills.
"Tactical knowledge is perishable since tactics, techniques and procedures are constantly evolving to counter agile and proficient adversaries," said Capt. Jim Jones, director of IAMD Division at SWMDC. "IAMD warfare tactics instructors are trained to remain curious, humble, forceful, tactful and credible, and these periodic re-blue gatherings help cement this."
Jones also said the IAMD WTI Program in Dahlgren stresses the importance of humanistic factors in both combat and the school house. The teaching style is rooted in instant feedback, or high velocity learning, in an atmosphere of mutual trust, support and strenuous long hours. The school house is a place where new and seasoned WTIs may gather to comprehensively exchange thoughts and experiences while challenging each other's tactical ideas since graduating from the program.
"Refreshing our tactical currency and level of knowledge was the goal from the outset, but once again, human factors proved the most important," said Jones. "The course is long, difficult and stressful. It is meant to be. Completing the course is a rite of passage that leads to a membership in a highly selective group identified by the black and red IAMD WTI patch."
According to Lt. Jacob Daniels, a WTI assigned to Center for Surface Combat Systems in Hawaii, "the re-bluing experience surpassed all expectations" and manifested an evolutionary mindset that builds on the initial WTI training.
"There have been some significant changes in how we expect to fight in the Navy," said Daniels. "By coming together, we have been able to share the new information clearly, quickly and uniformly throughout our cadre. It is apparent just how necessary this sort of forum is to our community."
Another advantage of this substantial training prospectus is WTIs will fortify their specific shipboard training in threat-centric planning, Aegis overland tactics and threat-centric planning for [ship self-defense system] ships, with the intent of shifting the flow of operational information and tactics directly from SMWDC to the fleet.
"The current model is molded around a 'demand-pull' paradigm where ships pull information from SMWDC," said Cmdr. Jeff Heames, operations officer for SMWDC. "This training has been created with the intent of proactively pushing the most relevant information to the ships before they have a need to ask."
SMWDC plans to re-blue all its WTI programs annually to prevent the diminishing of potentially perishable warfighting skills.
"WTIs are the heart of SMWDC's approach to achieving high-velocity learning, as well as high-velocity action," said Heames. "We gain valued perspective on fleet challenges from the WTIs and conversely, the WTIs are brought up to speed on the latest trends from the authoritative fleet repository of tactical information."
With a continually developing and changing combat environment, coupled with advancing technological innovations, the development of cutting-edge warfare tactics is always a necessity.
"Warships operate in environments that can change rapidly, and at SMWDC, we are connected to the material and non-material solutions in place to address these changes," said Heames. "It is vital to provide the most current information and tactics to ships on the front lines, as well as those who are preparing to deploy."
Daniels emphasized the value of staying current, and valued the pride and professionalism of the training. He said the new information is mission-appropriate and can easily be incorporated into existing training philosophies.
"This is an exceptional program that gets better with every graduating WTI class," he said. "The focus and effort on refining our warfare area and developing how we will fight tomorrow is absolutely incredible."
Heames said WTIs can embark on any ship, and then effectively share their knowledge, thereby enabling unit commanders to confidently employ the latest [tactics, techniques and procedures] and operational trends in any surface warfare specialty.
Heames also added, "This first re-blue adds credibility to the WTI foundation of knowledge. Empowering WTIs with mission-critical information enables them to teach other with the confidence and competence necessary to accomplish any objective, and to fight and win when necessary."
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